Saturday, October 15, 2011



Eric Thomson writes: "There's a cruel irony to Rose Macaulay's coy approach to book catalogues. She had dire need of them six years later. Better to be homeless than bookless. In May 1941, she was both and there's no doubting which caused her the greater anguish:
'Forgive this dislocated scrawl written in train to Romford to spend night with my sister', Rose scribbled on an odd scrap of paper to Daniel George on the evening of 14 May. 'Came up last night from Liss to find Lux: House no more — bombed and burned out of existence, and nothing saved. I am bookless, homeless, sans everything but my eyes to weep with. All my (and your) notes on animals gone — I shall never write that book now. I don't expect you kept any notes of what you copied for me...I shall take a room somewhere, till I can look round...I had a borrowed typewriter with me at Liss; little else, but the clothes I am wearing. What does one do? I have no O[xford] D[ictionary]. No Purchas. No nothing...It would have been less trouble to have been bombed myself.'

Not only in her first stunned bewilderment, but later too, the loss of her books caused Rose extreme anguish. Another flat could be found; her furniture could be replaced — in fact readily so, for the sale of Margaret's belongings could be cancelled. But her books...To Rose her books were her intimate, beloved friends, the companions of her daily life. 'The less I brood over my lost darlings', she wrote in her next letter to Daniel George, 'the better for my sanity.' To Gilbert Murray, in reply to a letter of sympathy, she used more measured terms but there was no disguising her grief. 'I do indeed feel destitute and bereaved without my books — they were the heritage of 4 generations of book-lovers, besides my own collection. Nothing can replace them. But I have begun to try round for some of them at the second-hand booksellers. And Logan Pearsall Smith, whom I saw yesterday, has given me some of his, and returned me some I had lent him...I don't know what one does...I have little heart for anything.'
Constance Babington Smith, Rose Macaulay: A Biography (London: Collins, 1972), pp. 156-157."

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